Dell marketplace hits beta with IaaS, managed services

The Dell marketplace is the company’s latest stab at public cloud, and this time it’s angling for a supporting role aimed at developers and admins.

AUSTIN, Texas -- Dell's one-stop-shop for cloud services hit beta this week, giving IT pros another way to buy...

infrastructure as a service resources.

Dell Cloud Marketplace, introduced in June, provides a single portal to compare, purchase and manage public clouds on Dell.com. Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform and Joyent are the three vendors' services currently available through the site.

Earlier this year, IBM launched a cloud marketplace, but some say the process to select, buy and download products and services aren't as straight-forward as AWS' Marketplace and Microsoft's Windows Azure Marketplace.

Most cloud buyers today are developers, so it is imperative for Dell to make its marketplace just as easy to buy from as the public cloud portals are, said Dave Bartoletti, an analyst with Forrester Research, Inc., in Cambridge, Mass. At the same time, the company must make it attractive to IT to get involved early and guide developers through the Dell portal.

"It looks like they are attacking both buyers, and that's good," Bartoletti said.

The marketplace represents a re-calibration of Dell’s cloud strategy that includes abandoning plans to build its own cloud infrastructure. Some say Dell is in a good position to fill this type of role after the successful move to private ownership.

"It's coming from a position of strength right now with very little in the way of uncertainty about its condition," said Charles King, president of principal analyst with Pund-IT, Inc.

Legacy vendors such as IBM and HP have made massive changes to their businesses to compete in cloud infrastructure and platform services. Building a public cloud network requires a considerable up-front investment and considerable risk to ensure those assets remain fully engaged and properly functional, King said.

"Frankly, from a cost and risk management point of view I think it makes great sense for Dell to pursue the business that way," King said.

There are multiple cloud marketplace vendors, including Jamcracker, Inc., but most are designed for service providers, not the enterprise, Bartoletti said. And while cloud vendors offer their own managed services, few support the competition.

"I'm definitely seeing a rise in inquires about multi-cloud management," Bartoletti said. "Multi-cloud or hybrid cloud is going to drive the conversation next year."

Some attendees at Dell World here this week were surprised the company didn't talk more about the cloud marketplace. Getting Dell-based cloud services managed under one umbrella and receiving a single bill for it appealed to at least one attendee here.

"I would like to find out more about how this plan really works…" said one IT professional with a large Austin-based university. "Anything like this that can simplify the administration aspects of managing cloud services is something I am interested in."

There is a disconnect between traditional IT and the developers that have glommed on to public cloud, King said. Developers may be the IT pros most attracted to public cloud, but they aren’t always in charge of cloud purchases.

"It's so easy and relatively inexpensive, but that ease and those expenses are not uniform across the industry and the quality of cloud services vary pretty widely," King said.

The target audience for this service will likely be mid-sized enterprises that lack the time or technical expertise to make these kinds of determinations, King said.

The key for Dell is to continue to add to its ecosystem and curate more vendors’ services to meet customer demand, Bartoletti said.

IT pros can take their existing cloud services from companies other than Dell and Dell will apply its own governance, compliance and other controls, the company said.

"We will have what we call bring your own cloud, and all you have to do is add your [Dell] cloud account credentials," said James Thomason, CTO of Dell Cloud Marketplace. "But we can’t roll everything up into one bill in that scenario."

The marketplace will target infrastructure as a service at first.

“We are making our entrance into this market as a broker where we are strongest," Thomason said. "There is a lot of technical complexity to solve in this space.”

Dell also plans to offer Delphix, Docker and Petrino services through the marketplace next year, and now offers its Foglight APM software as a service edition.

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